After a couple of years out of the game, I'm back to running ghost tours this year, and having a blast. I'm no longer with Weird Chicago - I got fed up with the company as it seemed to be transitioning into a company based around tours catering to drunks and jackasses, and seeing their crowd these days makes it clear that I'm not missing much by not being with them anymore. Oh, I still get drunks on MY tours, too, but I don't have to put up with them anymore, and no one expects me to play games like "Spot the Ho" in the middle of my tours.
I do, however, get a lot of requests from people who want me to tell famous stories that I stopped telling years ago because I knew they weren't true. I'll usually throw them in on request, but with a lot "supposedly" and "according to legend" thrown in. A major task of mine over the years has been to sift through the stories of local ghostlore and weed out all of the pure nonsense and exaggerations. The real stories are good enough on their own, and now that everyone has a smart phone, they can always fact-check me. I can handle it, though. I've done my homework.
Some of these stories I've told so many times that I can just about them by muscle memory alone. Others are new to me, and require some more research and new jokes in the middle. I've still never seen anything that I was able to convince myself was a ghost an might be disappointing people who want me to swear that there's a portal to the netherworld at Hull House, but I just can't bring myself to say stuff like that with a straight face.
So I'm having a fun time, and have enough to do that it keeps my mind off all the books coming out. More time to sit at the computer would be more time to freak out.
For much of the last week I couldn't focus on anything. I couldn't write, couldn't read, couldn't watch TV. On Wednesday night I gave a speech about local ghostlore at a suburban library. I arrived several hours early to beat the traffic and found that they had a "reading room" with a fireplace. I sat in front of the fire and read and read.
Now, I don't have a fireplace at home, and even if I bought one of those electric ones, there'd be nowhere to put it, but the world is full of "virtual fireplace" apps. I have just about all of them now. There's a roaring fire in the corner of my screen, and when I move to my "reading nook" (the one piece of particularly comfy furniture I have) there'll be a fire on the computer screen. Not the same as a real fire, but with a cup of hot cider and a cat on my lap, it gets me pretty close. I'm feeling more focused now.
For more about all this stuff, check out the Chicago Unbelievable podcast. Last week was part 1 of our investigation of a site used as a body dump by the murderous H.H. Holmes, featuring an interview with his great great grandson.